Photo: NOAA satellite image

An air quality health advisory is in effect all day today throughout most of New York State, including Long Island, due to smoke from the wildfires currently raging in the province on Quebec in eastern Canada.

Northerly winds are carrying smoke from the wildfires south across the state, with fine particulates in the air expected to create hazy conditions in all but the seven counties of the westernmost region of New York, according to state health and environmental officials.

Widespread haze and patchy smoke is expected in the region after 8 a.m. today, the National Weather Service says.

The air advisory is in effect through 11:59 p.m..

The pollutant of concern today is fine particulate matter. Due to fine particulates pollution, air quality today is considered unhealthy for children (under age 18), older adults (over age 65), and people with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.

Fine particulate matter consists of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets in the air that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter, according to the State Department of Environmental conservation.

“PM 2.5 can be made of many different types of particles and often come from processes that involve combustion (e.g. vehicle exhaust, power plants, and fires) and from chemical reactions in the atmosphere,” the DEC said in a press release.

Exposure to fine particulates can cause short-term health effects such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Exposure can also worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. “People with heart or breathing problems, and children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM 2.5,” the DEC said.

Last week, wildfires in the Canadian province of Halifax brought haze and the smell of smoke into the local region. The smoke from Halifax was not low enough to affect air quality on Long Island last week, according to the the weather service.

More than 160 wildfires were burning in the Quebec province on Monday, leading to the displacement of nearly 15,000 people in the province and prompting air quality warnings in the province and surrounding regions, according to reports in the Toronto Star and CTV News.

Wildfire activity in Canada this year is some of the most severe ever witnessed, Bill Blair, Canada’s minister for emergency preparedness told reporters Monday.

There have been 2,214 wildfires reported across Canada so fair this year, Blair said, according to the Star. Wildfires have burned 3.3 million hectares of land. (A hectare is equal to 2.47 acres.) There are 413 wildfires currently burning across Canada, and of those 249 are deemed “out of control,” Blair said.

The Canadian wildfires have caused air quality problems in the U.S. Midwest and Northeast.

In the U.S. so far this year, 18,403 wildfires have burned more than 518,600 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Those numbers are lower than the 10-year average year-to-date numbers, according to the NIFC. From 2013-2022 between Jan. 1 through June 2, there were an average 21,908 wildfires in the U.S. that burned an average of just over 1 million acres.

Nearly 85% of wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans, according to the National Park Service. The causes include: campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, equipment use and malfunction, fireworks, firearms and explosives, negligently discarded cigarettes and other smoking materials and intentional acts of arson.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.